Wada, H., Dambly-Chaudière, C., Kawakami, K., and Ghysen, A. (2013) Innervation is required for sense organ development in the lateral line system of adult zebrafish. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 110(14):5659-5664.
Superficial mechanosensory organs (neuromasts) distributed over the head and body of fishes and amphibians form the “lateral
line” system. During zebrafish adulthood, each neuromast of the body (posterior lateral line system, or PLL) produces “accessory”
neuromasts that remain tightly clustered, thereby increasing the total number of PLL neuromasts by a factor of more than 10.
This expansion is achieved by a budding process and is accompanied by branches of the afferent nerve that innervates the founder
neuromast. Here we show that innervation is essential for the budding process, in complete contrast with the development of
the embryonic PLL, where innervation is entirely dispensable. To obtain insight into the molecular mechanisms that underlie
the budding process, we focused on the terminal system that develops at the posterior tip of the body and on the caudal fin.
In this subset of PLL neuromasts, bud neuromasts form in a reproducible sequence over a few days, much faster than for other
PLL neuromasts. We show that wingless/int (Wnt) signaling takes place during, and is required for, the budding process. We
also show that the Wnt activator R-spondin is expressed by the axons that innervate budding neuromasts. We propose that the
axon triggers Wnt signaling, which itself is involved in the proliferative phase that leads to bud formation. Finally, we
show that innervation is required not only for budding, but also for long-term maintenance of all PLL neuromasts.